WHO says South East Asian countries must “act now” to tackle the virus

WHO says South East Asian countries must
Coronavirus is spreading across SE Asia. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday issued a stark warning and urged South East Asian countries to take aggressive measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Regional director of the organization Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, “The situation is evolving rapidly. We need to immediately scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people.”

“More clusters of virus transmission are being confirmed,” said Dr Singh ”While this is an indication of alert and effective surveillance, it also puts the spotlight on the need for more aggressive and whole of society efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19. We clearly need to do more, and urgently.”

Eight of the eleven South East Asian countries have confirmed cases. Thailand confirmed most cases of 177. Indonesia remains second with 134. India has reported 125, Sri Lanka 19, Maldives 13, Bangladesh 5 and Bhutan and Nepal one each.

There are so many things happening across the globe. Here are some latest updates:

Australia raft of new measures

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country had not seen such a national emergency since the end of World War One.

Australia has now reported over 450 cases, a doubling of cases in one week.

Mr Morrison, however, urged people to remain calm and announced two new key restrictions on social settings and travel.

The country banned ”non-essential” gatherings of more than 100 people and citizens have also been instructed not to travel overseas.

“Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas. That is very clear that instruction,” Mr Morrison said in a press conference.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the situation is a “one in a hundred year event”. Source: EPA

“The biggest risk we have had and the biggest incidents of cases we have had… has been from Australians returning from overseas.”

Australia ordered on Sunday that any person arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

But the government decided to remain schools open despite calls grow for them to be closed and several independent schools shut of their own accord.

The Prime Minister cited the example of Singapore where schools have remained open and “they have been effective in managing and limiting the transmission of this virus”.

He warned closing schools could take 30% of health workers out of the health system and could cost tens of thousands of jobs.

CNN Philippines stops broadcasting, BBC also interrupted

Many companies are allowing employees to work from home. But there are also those where that’s not possible, such as a TV station.

In the Philippines, the local CNN channel is off air after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.

The channel is among the leading news channels in the country and for now, the outage will be for 24 hours.

The BBC has also announced a number of changes to its news output in light of the situation. Programs including Politics Live and Victoria Derbyshire have been temporarily suspended so that they can focus on “core news”.

Question Time, which has political figures and commentators taking questions from the public, will move to a prime time 20:00 slot on BBC One.

The show will no longer host studio audience for instance.

BBC’s director of news, Fran Unsworth, described the situation as ‘unprecedented and difficult days’.

South Korea’s Vice Health Minister is in self-quarantine

Kim Ganglip, the Vice Health Minister of South Korea is in self-quarantine, after attending a government meeting last week with another participant who tested positive today.

Other government officials and participants at the meeting, which took place last Friday, are also in self-quarantine.

Cluster transmissions have been reported at a church and a hospital in Gyeonggi Province of the country.

Sri Lanka suspends all incoming flights for two weeks

Sri Lanka has suspended all incoming flights to the country for two weeks. The decision will be come under effect midnight today.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a statement on Twitter.

The government declared a three day public holydiay yesterday to slow the spread of coronavirus. All public and private entities will be closed except essential services.

“Please support the effort by staying home & practice social distancing,” Rajapaksa said in an earlier tweet announcing the holiday.

The country has confirmed 44 cases so far.

Hong Kong dog dies after quarantine

A 17-year-old dog in Hongkong has died two days after coming out of quarantine. The dog had tested “weak positive” for the coronavirus but was then cleared.

The owner of the dog also tested positive for the coronavirus. The dog was allowed home after tested negative but died shortly after.

This is possibly the first case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus.

But the World Health Organization says there is no evidence pets can be infected with the coronavirus. They said the dog likely just had the virus in its system and is not believed to have been killed by it.

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